The Colorado Department of Education has recognized five Routt County schools for improvement or sustained achievement on standardized tests.
Less than 20 percent of the state's 1,700 public schools received awards, which were handed out for the first time this year.
Only one county school -- Strawberry Park Elementary School in Steamboat Springs -- was given the title of "Accomplished School." The title means that for the past three years, 90 percent of Strawberry Park students at one or more grade levels have scored advanced or proficient in one subject area tested by the Colorado Student Assessment Program tests.
Strawberry Park was considered an accomplished school because of its reading scores in the third and fifth grades.
Principal Mark MacHale said the recognition was an honor and validated the hard work of teachers and staff members.
"We truly know each kid and what they need and try to provide that," MacHale said. "Literally, no kids fall through the cracks."
Soroco Middle School, South Routt Elementary School, Steam--boat Springs Middle School and Hayden Middle School received awards for being "Gain-Maker" schools, which means that during a three-year period, there was at least a 20 percent increase in the number of students in a particular grade level who scored advanced or proficient in one CSAP subject area.
Soroco Middle School was recognized for improvements in seventh-grade writing, reading and math, said Jo O'Brien, assistant to the commission of education. South Routt Elementary School was recognized for improvements in fifth-grade reading and writing.
Steamboat Springs Middle School and Hayden Middle School were recognized for improvements in eighth-grade math.
"When they are able to show this (improvement) for more than one year, it's a big deal," O'Brien said.
Soroco Middle School Ass--istant Principal Andy Dav--enport said the progress reflects work by teachers and staff to measure academic performance and align what is taught in the classroom with state standards. The school also has a new math curriculum, new math and literacy classes and required assistance for students who are struggling.
"It's definitely a positive direction for Soroco Middle School," Principal James Chamberlin said. But, he added, the hope is that improvement will continue during the coming years.
The awards are new this year to the education department and were sparked by a desire of Daniels Fund organizers to award teachers helping students perform well. Each school receiving an award is invited to nominate a teacher to receive a teaching excellence award, which can include a cash reward of as much as $10,000 paid for by the fund.
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